Baylor's Mulkey diagnosed with Bell's palsy

Baylor's Mulkey diagnosed with Bell's palsy

Published Mar. 29, 2012 2:31 p.m. ET

Three days before coaching her team in a Final Four game, Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey revealed she has been diagnosed with Bell's palsy.

The diagnosis was announced in a press release on the school's website. Mulkey addressed the issue in a press conference Thursday before the team left Waco for the Women's Final Four in Denver.

Bell's palsy is a form of facial paralysis that can cause one side of the face to droop. The condition usually is not permanent and disappears within two months.

"When I smile it's crooked, and when I talk, and talk loud, the hollowness in my hearing is weird," Mulkey said in an Associated Press report of the press conference.

"But it's not going to keep me from hollering."

Baylor, 38-0, plays Stanford in a Women's Final Four semifinal at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Mulkey said she first noticed her tongue felt strange when Baylor was playing in its NCAA Regional last Saturday and Monday in Des Moines. The conditioned worsened Wednesday.

 "Yesterday I noticed when I smiled, only the left side of my mouth was working," Mulkey said. "Also, my right eye was drooping and I couldn't hear properly out of my right ear."

Mulkey said trainer Alex Olson examined her and, upon his advice, skipped practice to see a doctor.

Bell's palsy occurs when the facial nerve swells, which many doctors believe to be the result of a virus. Olson said Mulkey is being treated with anti-viral medication as well as oral steroids to reduce nerve inflammation.

Mulkey said she does not have a severe case, although she said she won't smile much because she doesn't want people to see her crooked smile.

"I know that I will recover," Mulkey said. "It will take some time to recover, and it may get worse before it gets better."

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